Tides, Fossils and Mining – In the Parrsboro Region

Tourists to Nova Scotia should definitely not miss visiting the town of Parrsboro located at the head of the Bay of Fundy not far from Amherst and Truro. I recommend that you swing into Parrsboro before you leave the province for New Brunswick or just after you enter the land of “Bluenosers”.

Before you get upset at the use of this epithet, let me explain. It’s fine to call Nova Scotians “Bluenoses” or “Bluenosers”. They are proud of the nickname which some say comes from the Irish Bluenose Potato, once a major product of the province. Others say it comes from the colour of a fisherman’s nose stained by the dye from their mitts. Still others believe that this nickname was applied to British troops from the colony stationed in New York and Boston at the time of the American War of Independence. Nova Scotians love the term bluenose. One of the province’s signature tourist attractions is the sloop “Bluenose II” which you might see in Halifax harbour or in Lunenburg.

Bluenosers regularly boast of the natural wonder of the world on their doorstep – the highest tides in the world. The awe inspiring tides of the Bay of Fundy can be experienced in many places along the coast of Nova Scotia, but, by far the most dramatic encounter with the force of Fundy is to be had at the head of the bay at Parrsboro. Just standing on the shore watching the swift ebb and flow of the sea is an ideal way to take in the infinite power of nature. However, if you want to have an up-close adventure on the sea and explore the fabulous rock formations sculpted by the tidal waters make your way west from Parrsboro to nearby Advocate-Harbour where you can wander a point marked by the Cape d’Or Lighthouse or camp and hike in Cape Chignecto Provincial Park.

For an unforgettable water level view of the spectacular coastline with caves and tall pinnacle rocks carved from the land by eons of tidal action take a guided sea kayak expedition offered by Nova Shores Adventures. Their one, two or three day expeditions are great fun and educational as well.

Because the Bay of Fundy is continually eroding the coastline in the Parrsboro region, the beaches and cliffs regularly release rocks studded with fossil remains. The plant and animal fossils, some of which are unique to the region, are exposed in ever increasing numbers in the cliffs at Joggins, to the east of Parrsboro. This special location is so rich in fossil remains that it has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. At the interpretive centre at Joggins Fossil Cliffs you can learn about the “coal age” when tropical forests covered the region and fantastic animals roamed here. Be sure to take a tour, guided by an expert palaeontologist, along the beach at Joggins. While picking up fossils here is forbidden you can find them in abundance elsewhere along the coast.

The best place to begin your tour of the coast of the Bay of Fundy is at the Fundy Geological Museum in the town of Parrsboro itself. The museum, established in 1993, uses the latest in exhibit techniques and interactive displays to take you on a voyage through half a billion years of geological history. The story told here is not just about the carboniferous forests, dinosaurs and fossils of the Parrsboro region but also includes a comprehensive overview of the geology of the entire province of Nova Scotia.

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